For the first time since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray shared the dias at a public rally.
Playing an emotional card with the first-time voters of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked them to dedicate their first vote to the country, society and the armed forces.
“Dedicate your first vote to the Air Force which undertook the air strike at Balakot, to those jawans who were martyred in Pulgam. Your first vote should be to build a pucca house for the poor, to bring water to farms. Your first vote should be for the country and society that has given to a lot,” said Mr. Modi.
Mr. Modi was addressing an election campaign rally at Ausa near Latur, where he — for the first time since 2014 Assembly elections in Maharashtra — shared a stage with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray for a public rally. As a mark of newly-found bonhomie between the two saffron allies, Mr Modi termed the Sena chief as his “younger brother.”
The joint rally to campaign for BJP’s Sudhakar Shrungare in Latur (SC) and Sena’s Omraje Nimbalkar from neighbouring Osmanabad, drew a sizeable crowd — one of the biggest in Marathwada. The large crowd comes as a respite for the BJP which had witnessed not-up to-the-expectation crowd in Vidarbha recently.
Mr. Modi said that the first vote should be to make the country strong and secure. “Your vote to Lotus or Bow and Arrow will come directly to me and no one else,” he said.
‘Raids have exposed who is the real chor’
Referring to the Income Tax department’s raids at the office and houses of Congress leaders and aides, Mr. Modi alleged that crores of black money in the form of cash has been found, which was to be used for purchasing votes. “For last six months, the Congress has been saying that chowkidar chor hai. But these raids expose who is the real chor. Who is afraid of chowkidar? It has been barely six months that the Madhya Pradesh government has been formed and evidence of loot of billions of rupees have come to light. The only thing Congress does honestly is corruption,” said Mr Modi.
Attacking Congress and calling its manifesto as a wish-list of Pakistan, Mr. Modi blamed the party for the Partition. “Pakistan would not have been created had Congress remained strong in 1947. Congress says sedition law will be removed. They should look in to mirror. Talks of human rights do not suit them. You had snatched Balasaheb Thackeray’s right to vote.”
“Congress manifesto is full of anti-national thoughts. Whatever Congres says, Pakistan repeats. Congress wants talks with separatists, wants to lessen the presence of armed forces in Kashmir, wants to remove sedition law. Pakistan wants exactly the same,” he claimed.
Hitting out at the Opposition, which had questioned the government citing an American media report that claimed no F-16 jet was struck down by Indian fighter jets, Mr Modi said, “Voters should teach a fitting lesson to such parties who do not trust the armed forces.”
Mr. Modi also questioned the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for supporting the “anti-national” Congress which allies with a “party that wants a separate Prime Minister for Jammu and Kashmir”.
“I have no hopes from Congress, but how can Sharadrao do this?” he asked.